The First Presidential Election In The United States -1788-89- George Washington

The upcoming presidential election in the United States between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be the 57th presidential election in American history. Over the next 2 1/2 months we are going to give the history of each election, discuss the issues of the campaigns, who were the candidates, why did one candidate win and the other lose, etc.

The first election in American history was not democratic at all. There was only one candidate, the hero of the Revolutionary War, George Washington. At the 1787 U.S. Constitutional Convention when they decided that there would be a chief executive they all assumed the first would be George Washington. George Washington was enjoying his much deserved retirement at his home at Mount Vernon. He really didn’t want the job. { In the 1800’s especially presidential candidates would act like they didn’t want to be president but really did want it, Washington didn’t want the job} Washington was 56 years old and thought maybe he was too old for this job. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and others convinced Washington who was a big fan of the recently adopted constitution and wanted to see things off to a good start so he decided that he would be willing to be the 1st President of the United States.

There was no popular vote like we have today. That wouldn’t come into being until the 1824 election. Each state would have electors and each elector would have 2 votes. [New York was late in getting their act together and wouldn’t be participating in this election and Rhode Island and North Carolina had yet to ratify the U.S. Constitution.} There were also no political parties yet.

On February 4, 1889 ,George Washington received 69 electoral votes. Everyone used one of their two votes on George. The US Constitution at the time stated that whoever finished 2nd in electoral votes would be the Vice-President. This would change in 1804 when the 12th amendment. They quickly saw that this wasn’t a good idea. Can you imagine in modern times. 2000 election results George W. Bush is elected president and Al Gore with the 2nd highest number of electoral votes his Vice-President?

John Adams of Massachusetts received 34 electoral votes to win the Vice-Presidency, John Jay received 9 votes, Robert Harrison and John Rutledge 6, John Hancock 4, George Clinton 3, Samuel Huntington and John Milton 2 and James Armstrong, Benjamin Lincoln and Edward Telfair each received one vote. John Adams was 53 years old.  Adams was not happy with this position, he would write his wife Abigail ” My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”

The first United States Capital was located in New York City. George Washington’s trip from Mount Vernon to New York City was a victory tour. They lined the roads along the way to greet him.  George Washington would be inaugurated as first President of the United States on April 30th, 1889. Never again would the campaign and election for the presidency go so smoothly.